{lesson} Type@Cooper with Lisa Champ


My year stint in the Type@Cooper Extended Program consisted of 3 terms: 8 workshops, 60 classes, amazing people, and a sea of type knowledge.

To give a bit of background, typography has always been at the peak of my interests whether I was aware of it or not. Starting in middle school I would draw logotypes of the bands I listened to all over my notebooks. Later, when I attended PrattMWP Typography quickly became my favorite class, and I finally understood these families of letters had a name.

About a year after graduating from Pratt Institute and working on my own self-driven lettering projects, I discovered Type@Cooper while stumbling around the internet. I had taken typeface design at Pratt, but felt I needed to learn more about type so I applied that Spring.

I was ecstatic when I found out I was accepted, and couldn’t wait to begin. My class was full of great people who were all really passionate about type and learning more about it. Our first project was a lettering exercise that got us sketching by hand, which we later digitized to get us accustomed to using the font editor, Robofont. The rest of the first introductory term was spent reviving a historical typeface of our choice and getting a good foundation in the history of type.



A revival of Condensed Corbitt, originally drawn by Nicholas J. Werner in 1900

The remaining two terms were spent working on an original typeface. For that, we started with sketches and nailing down a solid idea. The rest and most of the time was spent digitizing, spacing and refining. We learned so many little tricks and rules that made a huge difference; like optical compensations, knowing where things should taper, and the list goes on. By the end of the program we each had created an original typeface with multiple styles and weights.



A specimen of my original typeface, Sebring.

The program didn’t just cover history and drawing techniques, but also touched on the programming side of type. I took two Python workshops and went into them knowing zilch about Python or other language for that matter. Both were extremely comprehensive for a noob and moved at good pace. I learned about writing opentype features, writing scripts to automate tedious, repetitive tasks and ultimately the foundation of final font production; in other words you don’t just hit ‘generate font’ when you’re finished drawing.

Aside from the main core classes I attended many workshops that covered topics ranging from calligraphy to lettering to stencil making. All of these were great and taught me something about type from a new perspective. The workshops were required in the Extended course but are also open to the public (space permitting) so I often saw a few new faces in these workshops.



Receiving a sweet House Industries tote from Ken Barber in front of the round hand script I drew in the Drawn Letters workshop

If you love type, lettering, typeface design, or creating letterforms this program will be right up your alley. If you can’t commit for a year, I’d certainly check out the weekend workshops. All of the type specimens are currently on display at the TDC until November 20th. If you want to hear more, you can read the super-in-depth-version about my Type@Cooper experience here.

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